Parliament Backs Lifting Of Set Aside Restrictions

26 September 2007
SNP MEP and EU Agriculture Committee member Alyn Smith has today welcomed the overwhelming decision of the European Parliament to lift set aside restrictions on farmers for the coming year.


The decision to lift the set aside restriction comes as grain stocks continue to fall and expected harvests reduce.

The amount of land farmers are required to set aside in 2008 will be set a 0%, instead of the usual 10%.

The Commission estimates this will lead to the cultivation of an additional 1.6 and 2.9 million hectares and help boost farmer's income.

Speaking after today's vote in the European Parliament Mr Smith said;

"The proposal to reduce set aside to 0% for the next year is the right one and I am pleased to see the Parliament endorse this proposal.

"With falling grain harvests and increasing demand for energy crops lifting the set aside limits allows European farmers to strike the right balance, to meet the food needs of the market and to continue to develop energy crops.

"I appreciate there are some environmental concerns regarding the end of set aside, but set aside does not exist for environmental reasons. It is highly unlikely that all set aside land will return to cultivation as much of it is unable to offer enough of a return to farmers.

"This move will benefit farmers in Scotland and secure sufficient food supplies at affordable prices for the coming year.

"Set aside is an issue we must investigate further and I am sure thefuture of set aside obligations will be thoroughly discussed as part ofthe CAP healthcheck."